Antigone's Influence on Shakespeare and Miller

May 24, 2023
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Tragedy is a genre of literature that has been present since the ancient Greek times. It involves a protagonist who experiences a downfall due to a tragic flaw or a circumstance that is beyond their control. Sophocles' play "Antigone" is one of the most notable examples of a tragic hero, and its influence can be seen in the works of many modern writers, including William Shakespeare and Arthur Miller.

In Sophocles' "Antigone," the protagonist, Antigone, is a tragic hero. She is a woman who defies the king's order to bury her brother, Polynices, who was considered a traitor. Antigone's tragic flaw is her pride and stubbornness, which leads her to disobey the law and ultimately results in her death. Her actions also lead to the death of her fiancé, Haemon, and her father, Creon, who is the king.

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Shakespeare's play "Hamlet" also features a tragic hero, Prince Hamlet. Like Antigone, Hamlet's tragic flaw is his pride and stubbornness, which lead him to seek revenge against his uncle, Claudius, for murdering his father. Hamlet's downfall is not only caused by his own flaws but also by the external circumstances of the play. He is unable to act on his revenge, which leads to the death of his love interest, Ophelia, and ultimately, his own death.

Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman" features a tragic hero in the form of Willy Loman. Willy's tragic flaw is his delusions of grandeur and his inability to accept his own limitations. He is a salesman who has failed to achieve the American dream, and his desire for success leads him to a tragic end. Willy's actions also lead to the death of his son, Biff, who is unable to live up to his father's expectations.

The similarities between these three tragic heroes are striking. All three characters have a tragic flaw that leads to their downfall. They are all stubborn and prideful, and their actions have consequences that extend beyond their own deaths. Additionally, all three characters struggle with their own identity and their place in society.

However, there are also differences between the characters. Antigone's tragedy is based on her defiance of the law, whereas Hamlet's tragedy is based on his inability to act. Willy Loman's tragedy is based on his delusions of grandeur and his failure to achieve success. Despite these differences, all three characters are tragic heroes who experience a downfall due to their own flaws and the circumstances of the world around them.

In conclusion, the tragic hero is a staple of literature, and its influence can be seen in the works of many modern writers. Sophocles' "Antigone" is a prime example of this genre, and its influence can be seen in the works of Shakespeare and Miller. These writers have taken the concept of the tragic hero and adapted it to fit their own stories and characters. The result is a collection of works that explore the human condition and the consequences of our actions.

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Antigone’s Influence on Shakespeare and Miller. (2020, September 17). WritingBros. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from
“Antigone’s Influence on Shakespeare and Miller.” WritingBros, 17 Sept. 2020,
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